Afternoon Coffee: Robot co-workers; tariffs and supply chains; California’s new privacy law

For an interesting update on how workers and robots are increasingly working together, The Associated Press takes a look at how expectations for people have ramped up and how injuries can occur.

“While fears that robots will replace human workers haven’t come to fruition, there are growing concerns that keeping up with the pace of the latest artificial intelligence technology is taking a toll on human workers’ health, safety and morale,” the AP story reports.

The story even talks to a worker who must go inside the fenced-off area in an Amazon warehouse where robots whiz by.

Tariff fallout hits fashion supply chain

At a recent supply chain summit, people in the fashion business talked about the fallout from tariffs and the effects of the U.S.-China trade war on supply chains, according to Supply Chain Dive.

“Retailers across the board are not interested in raising their prices or forfeiting their margins to help out stressed suppliers,” the article states.

Steve Lamar, executive vice president for the American Apparel and Footwear Association, discussed the reality for wholesalers in this tariff environment.

"Nobody wants to accept a price increase from the person below them in a supply chain," Lamar said. "At the same time, these are real tariffs. Tariffs are not paid by the Chinese. Tariffs are paid by the U.S. importers and it's real money that you have to pay when you make entry for the product."

The Supply Chain Dive article also talks about the summit participants’ views on supply chains and how manufacturers are reconsidering China. The fashion label Michael Kors said the tariffs are “cost-neutral” for it because it diversified its supply chain to include other countries over the years because it expected costs to rise in China. And another speaker at the summit said that Vietnam’s manufacturing capacity is maxed out.

In other retail news: Creditors taking over Toms Shoes

In order to restructure debt, creditors of Toms Shoes have agreed to take over the company as per a letter sent by the management to employees.

CNBC reports that the group of creditors led by Jefferies Financial Group, Nexus Capital Management and Brookfield Asset Management, will take over ownership of Toms from its founder, Blake Mycoskie, and private equity firm Bain Capital.

Credit ratings agencies had warned that the Los Angeles-based Toms would not have been able to repay a $300 million loan due in 2020 without renegotiating it with its creditors.

Retailers scramble to comply with California's new privacy law

U.S. retailers are rushing to complete the formalities required to usher in the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which begins Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, Reuters reports. The law lets consumers ask retailers to not sell their information, and it gives people insight into what personal information and data that retailers collect.

Retailers have been trying to determine just what they have to do to comply. Some didn’t know they had to put signs in stores, and other ambiguities were being addressed.

Home Depot will allow shoppers not just in California but around the country to access consumer privacy information online. Reuters also reports that Home Depot will assist consumers with the law at its California stores by training store employees to answer questions and by adding signs and offering QR codes so shoppers can look up information.

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